Developer: Ninth Dimension Studios
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod 3rd Gen.

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Little monsters playing 3D hockey with an 8-bit sensibility sounds like promising premise for an app. Unfortunately, Ninth Dimension Studio’s recently released The Hockey Experiment does little with it, instead delivering a simplistic and uninspired hockey game.

If you’ve seen the trailer or preview images, you’ll probably agree that the game has a neat aesthetic. And really, that’s the best thing about it. All the players are these short, big-headed monsters called Mischievous Muckity Mucks, with scary skins applied over top of them. They remind me of the Cartoon Network’s little white mascot. They’re very appealing, almost like rag dolls. They skate around a nicely rendered, if somewhat generic, hockey arena. The visuals really do work.

Unfortunately, the Muckity Mucks are about the only nonstandard thing here. The developers didn’t do anything with their neat little creations, except apply them to the most basic of basic hockey games. This is real NES level game play. You have two buttons: one shoots and the other passes on offense, while one checks while the other switches players on defense. You move your players with a control stick. And … that’s it.

The fact that we get to play these neat little monsters is wasted, because they play hockey just like generic humans players would. There’s no special monster abilities, no skill differentiation between teams, no humorous bits where one creature bites another or roars. Skate, pass, shoot, check; that is the scope of this game. Even fighting, a moment that would seem to be ripe for some mischievous mayhem, is reduced to a single button tap mechanic.

There’s a couple of power ups, but they appear at random and don’t seem to do much. There are also different player builds like taller and faster or shorter and harder hitting; you won’t be able to tell which is which on the ice, though, and their differences seem minor at best. The teams are all the same generic skill, same generic play style.

I’m not saying that the Hockey Experiment plays poorly. It’s not a terrible arcade hockey game. But slapping some silly monster skins on your generic players is not enough to elevate this to a new spin on the game or to justify charging $3.99 for it. The experiment was not successful.

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